Using the Quality Score report in Google Ads to measure progress and show value
So you’re a PPC specialist trying to appease a skeptical client who sees little value in exotic metrics like CPC, CTR, and CVR. Worse still, they want you to drive traffic to a website with poor conversion value and no lead tracking. What can you offer to show your worth?
In another blog post I explained why you should provide your clients with a search terms report that proves you are sending highly relevant traffic to their website. But getting clients the right web traffic is only half of what we do as PPC specialists. The other half is getting that traffic at the lowest possible cost – and that’s something you can demonstrate with a Quality Score report.
What Quality Score is and is not
I am as guilty as anyone for misusing the term “quality score”, but in this and other posts I intend to set things straight and atone for my sins.
Quality Score is a metric available at the keyword level in Google Ads that helps advertisers evaluate their efforts based on a few important factors: expected CTR, landing page experience, and ad relevance.
Quality Score is not used at auction time to determine Ad Rank. Nor is it an average of your previous auction time scores. Nor is it a record of your most recent auction time score. In fact, let us forget that Quality Score has anything whatsoever to do with our actual CPCs.
This is super confusing, because Google does calculate some kind of score based on a host of factors to calculate your ad rank in every auction. And those factors do include those same three indicated in Quality Score. And we have all seen this formula a million times:
But the formula is misleading. It really should say Ad Rank = CPC Bid x Auction Time Ad Quality, which seems to be Google’s own preferred term for that thing (we dare not call it a score) that impacts the price we pay for a click.
So to reiterate, Quality Score is a metric provided by Google to help us optimize our campaigns. It is calculated based on the past performance of our keywords when triggered by exact match queries. It is related to, but not to be confused with, Auction Time Ad Quality.
This article is talking about Quality Score, not Auction Time Ad Quality.
Why Quality Score matters
We know that Auction Time Ad Quality plays an important role in determining how much we pay for clicks, but we can never know it directly. The closest approximation we have is Quality Score, which tells us how Google views our efforts along three important dimensions: expected CTR, ad relevance, and landing page experience.
If we can improve our Quality Scores, we can reasonably infer that our Auction Time Ad Quality will improve as well.
What is a Quality Score Report
A Quality Score Report is simply a report we compile using the various Quality Score columns in Google Ads. Its purpose is to demonstrate how Google scores our current efforts, indicate whether it is trending in the right direction, and serve as a guide for further optimizations.
How to make a Quality Score Report
When creating your Quality Score report, you want to select only those columns that are relevant to the inquiry at hand. Specifically, you want to select the Impressions column in the Performance section, the Policy Details column in the Attributes section, and all the historical columns in the Quality Score section.
Policy Details is relevant because it tells you whether and why certain keywords are disapproved, which should be part of your quality audit.
I include Impressions, too, for two reasons: 1. a minimum threshold of impressions are required in order for Google to display a Quality Score, and 2. ranking your keywords in importance by number of impressions can help show you where to focus your optimization efforts.
Now that Google shows historical Quality Score metrics, I don’t see the point in using the old non-historical columns since they cannot be used with time segments to show a trend. In the interest of fitting all the columns neatly on the page, I don’t include them.
Now that you have saved a column set with the relevant columns, you need to segment your report to show change over time. As a general rule, you don’t want to be misled by big swings in your metrics due to small sample size. So when choosing your time segment, consider the impression volume you’re dealing with as well as the frequency of your optimizations.
The Quality Score Report as a deliverable
As PPC specialists, our job is to provide clients the most qualified traffic at the lowest possible cost. Just as you can prove you are sending qualified traffic with a Search Terms Report, you can demonstrate your hard work on the cost side with the Quality Score Report and the right bid automatic bid rule.
You can also use the report to highlight areas for improvement that are not under your control. If the Landing Page Experience score is low because the client’s website is slow, you might suggest to the client that they invest in a better optimized landing page.